Even as it moves to ramp up its primary health care efforts, the Ministry of Public Health has created the position of a Primary Health Care Director.
Appointed to the new portfolio is Dr. Ertenisa Hamilton who has for a number of years functioned out of the Maternal and Child Health Department of the Ministry.
Although her appointment became effective April, 2018, it was only earlier this week that Senior Minister of Public Health Ms. Volda Lawrence, alluded to it when she spoke of Dr. Hamilton being promoted to head up Primary Health Care within her Ministry.
In addition to overseeing Maternal and Child, the new appointment has seen Dr. Hamilton assuming responsibility for Environmental Health, Dental Health, Health Promotion and Education, Food Policy, Elderly Health, Men’s Health and Drug Demand Reduction.
With Dr. Hamilton focused on these areas, the work of the Chief Medical Officer [CMO], Dr. Shamdeo Persaud, has become a bit lighter.
“This was an added burden to the CMO…so we have someone who is looking over primary health care now,” said Dr. Hamilton in an invited comment on her new position. “I think if you look at it from the Ministry’s point of view, they want to have Primary Health Care as a big focus, it has always been a big focus…so having one person overlooking it gives an opportunity for the management to be a little bit more efficient.”
The Primary Health Care Director’s portfolio is moreover one that is expected to aid the public health sector’s efforts at ensuring health services are equitable across the country and that everyone is able to access these.
“It all ties in with the strategic direction taken by government to change the Ministry of Health to the Ministry of Public Health,” said Dr. Hamilton.
The deliberate effort to give increased attention to Primary Health Care is in direct response to a call by the World Health Organisation [WHO] for countries of the world to implement more robust programmes in this area, since they can aid prevention.
Primary Health Care by definition refers to essential health care that is based on scientifically sound and socially acceptable methods and technology, which make universal health care accessible to all individuals and families in a community.
Moreover, at its heart, primary health care is about caring for people, rather than simply treating specific diseases or conditions, WHO has pointed out.
The body, which has been continually advocating for more focus in this direction has outlined too that Primary Health Care is usually the first point of contact people have with the health care system. As such, it provides comprehensive, accessible, community-based care that meets the health needs of individuals throughout their life.
“This includes a spectrum of services from prevention [i.e. vaccinations and family planning] to management of chronic health conditions and palliative care. Primary Health Care can meet 80 – 90 percent of an individual’s health needs over the course of their life,” according to WHO.
It can therefore be concluded that a health system with a strong Primary Health Care at its core, delivers better health outcomes, efficiency and improved quality of care compared to other models.
“We need health systems with strong Primary Health Care if we are to achieve universal health coverage,” WHO declared even as it highlighted that “Primary Health Care development has been unequal across the world. This is often due to a combination of under investment, lack of political will and misconceptions about the role and benefits.”
For this reason, WHO has been emphasizing without fail that universal health coverage requires a renewed focus on Primary Health Care and and their importance for individuals, health systems and health for all.
Oct 16, 2018By Sean Devers in Trinidad In association with Regal, Vnet, Noble House Seafoods & Cascadia Hotel In murky conditions and played before virtually empty stands, Guyana Jaguars, led by a 79-run...
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